"Treasure Island"--Vocabulary from Part Two (Chapters 7-12)

"Treasure Island," an adventure novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, supplies everything desired of a pirate story: treasure maps, booty, and of course, bad guys (etext found here). Learn this word list that focuses on the qualities of a crew.

Here are links to all of our word lists for Treasure Island: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. odious
    unequivocally detestable
    I wished a round score of men—in case of natives, buccaneers, or the odious French—and I had the worry of the deuce itself to find so much as half a dozen, till the most remarkable stroke of fortune brought me the very man that I required.
  2. indomitable
    impossible to subdue
    Between Silver and myself we got together in a few days a company of the toughest old salts imaginable—not pretty to look at, but fellows, by their faces, of the most indomitable spirit.
  3. competent
    properly or sufficiently qualified, capable, or efficient
    Long John Silver unearthed a very competent man for a mate, a man named Arrow.
  4. substance
    considerable capital (wealth or income)
    I forgot to tell you that Silver is a man of substance
    The next few sentences describing Silver's bank account, wife and inn confirm that the squire is using "substance" to mean "wealth" in the example sentence. But Stevenson could've intended some irony connected to the more common definition of "substance" ("the real physical matter of which a person or thing consists"), since the readers will discover that Silver is never really what he appears to be.
  5. lament
    express grief verbally
    I was half beside myself with glee; and if ever I despised a man, it was old Tom Redruth, who could do nothing but grumble and lament.
  6. capital
    While I was still in this delightful dream, we came suddenly in front of a large inn and met Squire Trelawney, all dressed out like a sea-officer, in stout blue cloth, coming out of the door with a smile on his face and a capital imitation of a sailor's walk.
  7. dexterity
    adroitness in using the hands
    His left leg was cut off close by the hip, and under the left shoulder he carried a crutch, which he managed with wonderful dexterity, hopping about upon it like a bird.
  8. sheepish
    marked by docility or stupidity or meekness or timidity
    The man whom he called Morgan—an old, grey-haired, mahogany-faced sailor—came forward pretty sheepishly, rolling his quid.
    Another definition of "sheepish" is "showing a sense of shame"--this also fits the example sentence. While the "docile" definition is a more obvious description of the way Morgan obeys Silver's command to come forward, the "shameful" definition suggests that Morgan knew that the man he was drinking with was the same pirate who had fought with the captain.
  9. trump
    a card in the suit declared to rank above other suits
    "The man's a perfect trump," declared the squire.
    The informal definition of "trump" as "one who is reliable or admirable" is a better fit for the example sentence. "Trump" as a verb means to "get the better of" and while that definition is not intended by the squire, Stevenson's use of the word could hint that the squire has been misled by Silver's two-faced nature.
  10. intolerable
    incapable of being put up with
    "Silver, if you like," cried the squire; "but as for that intolerable humbug, I declare I think his conduct unmanly, unsailorly, and downright un-English."
  11. capable
    having the skills and qualifications to do things well
    The ship proved to be a good ship, the crew were capable seamen, and the captain thoroughly understood his business.
  12. sober
    not affected by a chemical substance, especially alcohol
    Sometimes he fell and cut himself; sometimes he lay all day long in his little bunk at one side of the companion; sometimes for a day or two he would be almost sober and attend to his work at least passably.
  13. wily
    marked by skill in deception
    And the coxswain, Israel Hands, was a careful, wily, old, experienced seaman who could be trusted at a pinch with almost anything.
    The use of the word "wily" contradicts the last part of the sentence's description of Israel Hands. Jim could've been using the word to simply mean "skillful", which goes with his other adjectives of "careful" and "experienced"; but as a first-person narrator, Jim already knows how the treasure hunt and all its participants turn out, so his inclusion of "wily" could be hinting at the deceptions.
  14. confidant
    someone to whom private matters are told
    He was a great confidant of Long John Silver, and so the mention of his name leads me on to speak of our ship's cook, Barbecue, as the men called him.
  15. grapple
    grip or seize, as in a wrestling match
    I seen him grapple four and knock their heads together—him unarmed.
  16. burnish
    polish and make shiny
    To me he was unweariedly kind, and always glad to see me in the galley, which he kept as clean as a new pin, the dishes hanging up burnished and his parrot in a cage in one corner.
  17. brisk
    quick and energetic
    He owned, when driven into a corner, that he seemed to have been wrong about the crew, that some of them were as brisk as he wanted to see and all had behaved fairly well.
  18. corruption
    destroying someone's honesty or loyalty
    By a "gentleman of fortune" they plainly meant neither more nor less than a common pirate, and the little scene that I had overheard was the last act in the corruption of one of the honest hands—perhaps of the last one left aboard.
  19. faithful
    loyal and reliable
    Hence there were still faithful men on board.
  20. congregate
    come together, usually for a purpose
    There all hands were already congregated
  21. duplicity
    a fraudulent representation
    He did not know, to be sure, that I had overheard his council from the apple barrel, and yet I had by this time taken such a horror of his cruelty, duplicity, and power that I could scarce conceal a shudder when he laid his hand upon my arm.
  22. mutiny
    open rebellion against constituted authority
    "I never heard of a crew that meant to mutiny but what showed signs before, for any man that had an eye in his head to see the mischief and take steps according. But this crew," he added, "beats me."

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.